Member Review: Horse Riding for the Disabled

Member Anne Moon told us about her recent experiences of horse riding at Minnismore Stud.

For the last nine weeks I have been horse riding at Minnismore Stud where they specialise in riding for the disabled from children with Cerebral-Palsy to grownups with other disabilities, including MS, and I would like to tell you about the school and what the riding has done for me.

It makes me feel alive and I love it

The horses I have ridden so far have a gentle nature and respond to their rider’s abilities especially Tess who is my regular ride, she is just perfect in every way.

As for the staff, they could not be more helpful if they tried and they fully appreciate their client’s needs. Jo and Amanda, the joint owners are some of the kindest and fun people you could meet, and Paul, who is my regular tutor, has tailored my sessions to give me the maximum benefit from the short time I can manage in the saddle.

As for the staff, they could not be more helpful

My sessions start and end with a very pleasant drive through Lydden following the scenic route through the Alkham Valley to the farm where we are greeted by Amanda and an assortment of Horses and Donkeys all having their breakfasts while their stables are being mucked out. Once there I am fitted with my helmet while Tess is being prepared. My husband then wheels me up the ramp to put me in the saddle with my husband and Pauls help they straddle me astride Tess. Paul then adjusts the stirrup, makes sure I am sitting correctly in the saddle and with me holding the saddle strap and two stable hands either side holding me across the thighs, its off we go.

I am currently just walking the horse around the outdoor school with Paul getting me to stop and start at various points of the school while he constantly assesses my balance, I have progressed from eight minutes in the saddle to 12 at the last session.

Now, you may think that such a short time actually riding would not give much benefit, but I can quite assure you that this is not the case. Already I am noticing that my left leg is becoming more mobile as I use it to stop and start the horse, and both Claire in the hydro pool and Jo at the centre and my Physio at the hospital have all noticed that my core is becoming much stronger as a result of having to balance as I ride.

But some of the best benefits is me getting a small but significant sense of independence as for a short time each week I feel normal and good about myself, it makes me feel alive and I love it.

The school has only a few employees with volunteers making up the bulk of the staff, all of which helps to keep the costs as low as possible, I am only paying £13 per session which when you take in to account that there are a minimum of three people assisting me during my ride, plus of course Tess, is amazing value for money.

And although it can seem a little bit like organised chaos, which in my opinion adds to the charm of the place, it is actually very well run and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone, regardless of ability or level of disability. Especially as along with riding they have carriage riding, which I am assured gives equally as good benefits and also means you can participate even if you are wheelchair bound, as these can be accommodated in the carriages.

So if you feel you would like to give it a go, and why not, then please contact Jo at the stud on 01304 822688 and see what they can do for you.